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OBJECT COLLECTIONS

At Leathersellers’ Hall the Leathersellers’ Company is custodian of varied object collections including sculpture, paintings and prints, plate, stained glass, tapestries, boxes, and historic leather artefacts.

The majority of collection objects were acquired through the generosity of past benefactors, many of them members of the Leathersellers’ Company, whose gifts to the Company have formed a tradition of giving dating from the mid-15th century.

Sculpture

Our sculpture collection is small but varied. The most significant pieces are described below:

Commissioned specially for the current, new Leathersellers’ Hall, Blue to Clear Spire Chandelier – a magnificent glass sculpture by the American glass artist Dale Chihuly – hangs in the Reception Room as its most eye-catching feature. As an assembly of hand-blown glass spikes resembling icicles this reflects light rather than emits it, unlike traditional chandeliers.

Stone carving of the head of a mermaid by prominent 17th century sculptor Caius Gabriel Cibber, whose other works survive around the base of the Monument, on the exterior of St Paul’s Cathedral, at Hampton Court Palace and elsewhere. This head is the only surviving fragment of a sculpture of a two-tailed mermaid originally positioned on top of a hand pump on the site of St Helen’s Place.

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sculpture of a stone head

Stained glass

Leathersellers’ Hall has two stained glass windows in its collections.

The first window depicts Henry VI with the 1444 charter and was created by stained glass artist Leonard Walker using medieval glassmaking techniques. Commissioned by Frederick John Nettlefold (Master 1936/37) and presented by him in 1937, the window was damaged by the 1992 Baltic Exchange bomb attack by the IRA before being painstakingly restored.

The second window commemorates the 550th anniversary of the granting of the Company’s charter of incorporation. It was designed by artist John Nicholas Lawson and was presented by the Livery in 1994 as a statement of faith in the future following the further IRA bomb attack nearby in 1993.

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stained glass window depicting a king

Tapestries

The tapestry collection comprises two items, both woven at Dovecot Tapestry Studio, Edinburgh.

With its glowing, rich colours and intricate design, our most recent tapestry acquisition forms a centrepiece of the Dining Hall. Commissioned for the seventh Hall, which officially opened in 2017, and designed by the artist Victoria Crowe, this tapestry takes inspiration from elements of the Leathersellers’ history and identity, its links to the leather trade and its many charitable and educational activities dating from the late medieval period to the present day.

A smaller tapestry hanging in the Court Room was designed by brothers Robin and Christopher Ironside in the 1950s for use in the sixth Leathersellers’ Hall when it opened in 1960. It depicts the Leathersellers’ heraldic arms, crest, supporters and motto, surrounded by the leaves of oak, sumac and mimosa, plants used in traditional vegetable tanning.

tapestry showing a boy in blue

Boxes

Three historic boxes, chests or trunks are preserved at Leathersellers’ Hall and pay testament to different periods of Company history. These consist of a late 18th century wooden poor box, later adapted to store the Company’s seal; a ‘hair-on’ hide trunk purchased after the 1819 fire in order to hold important deeds and documents rescued from the conflagration; and a 16th century iron strongbox purchased in 1574 to store the Company’s valuables.

historic leather chest

Access to the object collections

The object collections can be accessed for the purpose of academic research only, by prior appointment. Access to small items kept in the stores is the same as for the Archive and Library collections, but if you wish to see any items on display around Leathersellers’ Hall please contact the Archivist to make alternative arrangements. Access to items on display is dependent on availability of the room(s) in which the item(s) are located.

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Archives & Library

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heraldic image depicting three roebucks in a black shield

Resources

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stone carving in a monument

Library

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woman selecting a book from a library case